Libby App - Listen to Audiobooks for Free

Published December 17, 2018

I can’t believe I haven’t written about one of my favorite apps, Libby. Libby is a must-have app if you love to read. Whether you listen to audio books or read ebooks, Libby is the app for you. The best part about it is it’s free! All you need is a device, the app and a library card.Libby

Libby App Compatibility

This neat little app is available on iOS, Android, PCs and Mac. The app is an improvement from its predecessor, OverDrive. The OverDrive app was cumbersome and really tough to warm up to. However, I liked the idea of downloading audiobooks, so I suffered through the unfriendly interface. I was thrilled when they came out with OverDrive’s successor, Libby. Libby is so much more user-friendly.

Number of Books Limitation

With the Libby app, you can check out as many books as you can read within the allotted time. Actually, that’s not true. Your library sets the limit for the number of books you can check out at a time. My limit is 10, which is more than what I can comfortably read in three weeks. And, if I happen to spend every waking moment reading and blow through 10 books, I can return them as I finish them and check out a new one for each returned book. How cool is that?

That brings me to the loan borrowing time. I’ve set my loan duration for 21 days.  However, you can set book loans to a shorter lending term of either 7 or 14 days.

Searching for Books on Libby

Searching on Libby is easy, just type in the author, book title, character name or even genre in the search bar. Since I use Libby to read audiobooks, I refined my search to only show English language audiobooks in the search results.

Libby Search Preference

One of the nice things about the search results is it continually provides pertinent information. For example, I started typing “just” as I was looking for the author Justin Cronin. As you can see, the titles, books, series beginning with “just” are listed below. It auto fills in the search results as you type.

Libby Book Search

By tapping on Justin Cronin, the Libby app displays a list of three of his books (he’s written more, but the library only has the three which are part of a series). You’ll note it lists each book and its order in the series. It also shows whether or not there’s a hold on it.

Justin Cronin Books

Libby's Waiting Lists

What I’ve found with the waiting list estimates, is they’re just that...estimates. It doesn’t take into consideration early returns (understandably so).

Libby Wait List

Recently I went “shopping” on Libby to line up several books. I picked out books while keeping in mind that I couldn’t read them all at the same time. I purposely selected books with varying wait times on their waiting lists. My intent was to structure them so I’d have no more than 2 or 3 books checked out at a time.

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. I guess I selected books that other patrons opted to return early. Because I have the app set to automatically check out books when they become available, I had no less than 8 books to go through within 3 weeks. I did my best to listen to them all, but a couple of them I returned and put myself back on the waiting list. No sense in stressing out over unread books.

Borrowing a Book

Checking out a book is as easy as tapping “Borrow.” Once it’s borrowed you can either listen to it from your device or send it to another listening device. Currently, the only two options are either Kindle or Adobe-compatible reader.

Libby Borrow Book

If you have the Libby app installed on more than one device, you can synchronize your books between devices.

Book Availability

There have been times when I’ve attempted to check out a book from Libby only to find that “It’s not available at my library.” When that happens I close the Libby app and go to my local library’s website. I request the book there and am notified when it’s available.

Usually, this means I’ll either have to read the hard copy or listen to it on CD. Or, depending on how old the book is, it might even be on cassette tape (yes, this grandma still has her old Walkman so I can listen to books on tape). It just won’t be available as a downloadable audiobook.

Libby or Audible

Full disclosure: I do not and have, nor have I ever had an Audible membership so take my mini comparison with a grain of salt.

Libby or Audible

There are lots of advantages to having an Audible subscription. Aside from keeping the books forever even if you cancel your subscription, there are member-only savings plus the ability to swap a book you don’t like for free. That's an attractive feature.

As of this writing, Audible memberships start at $14.95 per month for the Gold Monthly plan. Gold members who pay for the year only pay $149.50 (an annual savings of $29.90). Platinum monthly members pay $22.95 per month or save $45.90 per year with the $229.50 annual membership. There’s something to be said for having an annual membership.

Audible: What You Get for the Money

These premium Audible memberships entitle members to a certain number of credits per month/year. From what I gather, a credit is the equivalent of a free book. If a member wishes to purchase books over and above the free allotment, they can purchase them at a 30% discount.

There are other cool benefits such as easy exchanges and access to original podcasts and audio shows. There’s also a thing called “Daily Deals.” With Daily Deals, members can purchase a new book each day at a discounted price. That actually sounds pretty good if that's something that interests you.

With Libby, the membership price is $0. As far as exchanges go, if I don’t like a book, I return it and look for something else. Unlike Audible, I don’t get to keep the audiobook, but that’s fine with me. I can always check it out again if I need it.

Bottom line, Libby is free and easy to use. However, in this gray world I choose to live in (not all black or all white), one can use both. It doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. As for this grandma, I’m a Libby gal.

For more information about the Libby app, check out their website. Also, here's a link to their Help categories. The help link should answer any questions you have about the app.

Felicia (aka Low Tech Grandma) is a wife, mother, grandmother, freelance writer and low-tech blogger.

Last Modified: 13 August 2023

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